Retro Television Review: Love Boat 1.21 “Taking Sides/Going By The Book/A Friendly Little Game”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Wednesdays, I will be reviewing the original Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986!  The series can be streamed on Paramount Plus!

It’s time to once again experience the magic of The Love Boat!

Episode 1.21 “Taking Sides/Going By The Book/A Friendly Little Game”

(Dir by Richard Kinon, originally aired on February 18th, 1978)

This week’s episode begins with the extremely nerdy Howard Wilson (Harvey Jason) preparing to board the ship.  Before he does so, he’s approached by his best friend, Bernie (Paul Sylvan).  Bernie gives Howard a book on how to talk to women.  Apparently, this is something that Howard’s not good at but Bernie swears that the book will change his life.  There’s a Roy Lichtenstein-style picture of a man and a woman kissing on the cover of the book so Howard decides that Bernie knows what he’s talking about.

On the boat, Howard immediately notices Sheila Lawrence (Georgia Engel).  However, Sheila’s overprotective father (Herb Voland) has specifically asked Captain Stubing to make sure that no one seduces his daughter.  The captain assigns Doc Bricker (Bernie Kopell) to keep an eye on her, which makes absolutely no sense.  Over the course of the last twenty episodes, Doc has yet to meet a woman who he has not hit on.  Doc is a walking HR nightmare and quite frankly, I would be kind of uncomfortable going to him for a medical examination.  He seems like he would be a little bit handsy, if you get my drift.

Anyway, Doc turns out to be pretty bad at his job because Howard still manages to hit on Sheila.  Of course, Howard’s just doing what the book tells him to do.  Eventually, though, he realizes that he doesn’t need the book and Shelia realizes that she needs to spend more time on her own happiness and stop worry about what her father wants.  Yay!  It’s another Love Boat success story,

Meanwhile, Scott (Robert Urich) and Ellen (Diana Canova) are newlyweds who seem to be totally in love until they make the mistake of having dinner with an old married couple, Max (Robert Mandan) and Gladys (Audrey Meadows).  Listening to Max and Gladys bicker soon leads to Scott and Ellen bickering and it looks like their marriage might be over.  But again, the magic of The Love Boat leads to everyone realizing that bickering is a part of marriage and that you can still love someone even if you disagree with them.  Yay!  Robert Urich and Diana Canova were such a cute couple.  They just looked like they belonged together.

Finally, poor old Wendell Snead (Harry Morgan) is taking his wife on a cruise that he can’t really afford.  In fact, he secretly took out a mortgage on their house in order to buy the tickets.  Wendell has plan, though!  He has a set of marked playing cards and he beats Gopher at several games of gin rummy.  When the crew discovers that he’s been cheating, their initial reaction is to cheat back.  But when they learn why he’s been cheating, they give him all the money from the ship’s emergency fund.  Awwwwww!

This was a sweet episode.  Yes, the stuff with the book and the overprotective father was pretty stupid but the other two stories were entertaining.  Harry Morgan’s melancholy performance was the episode’s stand-out.  The fact that the crew gave him money instead of calling the cops brought tears to my mismatched eyes.  Nicely done, Love Boat.

What will happen next week?  We’ll find out in seven days!

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.2 “The Big Dipper/The Pirate”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Smiles, everyone, smiles!  How silly can things get this week?

Episode 2.2 “The Big Dipper/The Pirate”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on September 23rd, 1978)

Pete Raymond (Dan Rowan) and his daughter, Harmony (Jill Whelan), are professional pickpockets who are hiding out from a determined NYPD Detective named Broylan (Cameron Mitchell).  What better place to hide than Fantasy Island?  After stealing a ticket to the island from a reverend, Pete discovers that “his” fantasy is to work on a farm.  Of course, as you probably already guessed, the fantasy is actually Harmony’s.  She wants her father to calm down and live a normal life, away from committing crimes and fleeing the police.  At first, farmwork seems to agree with Pete but then Broylan shows up on the island.

I’ve often wondered about the legal status of Fantasy Island.  Is it an independent nation or is it territory of the United States or a member of the Commonwealth?  Some of the episodes during the first season suggested that Fantasy Island was a territory of the United States.  However, in this episode, Roarke reminds Broylan that the NYPD has no jurisdiction in Fantasy Island and that the island is not required to turn anyone over to America.  Pete is eventually arrested but Mr. Roarke explains that the Fantasy Island magistrate has ruled that Pete and Harmony can stay on the island and work on the farm.  When Broylan demands to know who the magistrate is, Mr. Roarke replies that he is.  So, apparently, we are now back to Fantasy Island being a separate nation where Mr. Roarke makes and interprets all of the laws.

The legal status of Fantasy Island was probably the most interesting thing about this fantasy.  It’s always fun to see Cameron Mitchell playing an obsessed cop but Dan Rowan gives a lousy performance as Pete and it’s never really clear how Harmony was able to set up the fantasy in the first place.  I mean, it obviously took a lot of planning on her part.  Did Mr. Roarke charge her the full price or is she another one of the freeloaders that Tattoo is always complaining about?

The show’s other fantasy is even more ridiculous and, not coincidentally, it’s also a lot more fun.  Painter Ted Cavanaugh (Sonny Bono) is upset that his ex-wife Mary (Diana Canova) is going to be marrying some stuffy rich guy so he asks to be transformed into an 18th century pirate so that he can kidnap Mary and convince her that she’s still in love with him.  WHAT!?  It’s totally completely ludicrous but …. I don’t know.  Sonny Bono is kind of funny as a pirate.  If you’re going to have a silly fantasy, you might as well go out and make it as silly as humanly possible and that’s definitely what happens here.  Fortunately, it all works out in the end.  Who can resist a pirate?

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.7 “Julie’s Old Flame / The Jinx / The Identical Problem”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Wednesdays, I will be reviewing the original Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986!  The series can be streamed on Paramount Plus!

Love, exciting and new!

Let it go, it floats back to you!

We all float down here!

Episode 1.7 “Julie’s Old Flame / The Jinx / The Identical Problem”

(Directed by Don Weis, originally aired on November 12th, 1977)

The Love Boat is jinxed!

Or, at least, that’s what the crew assumes when they meet Horace and Henrietta McDonald (played by Ray Bolger and Harriet Nelson).  Horace and Henrietta first met when they were children and they’ve been in love ever since.  In fact, they met each other on a cruise.  Unfortunately, that cruise was the Titanic!

(Remember, when this episode aired, it had been 65 years since the Titanic sank.  So, there were still a few elderly survivors around.)

Anyway, the crew worries that Horace and Henrietta might bring bad luck with them and, before you know it, everyone’s getting injured.  Doc Bricker gets hit by a door and ends up having to wear a bandage on his head.  Gopher trips in the lounge.  Isaac gets whiplash after falling in the pool.  Julie ends up wearing an eye patch.  To be honest, I think the crew is just clumsy.

While the crew is trying not to die, identical twins Ellen and Helen (Diana Canova) are trying to keep the crew from realizing that they’re both on the boat.  (They only bought one ticket.)  One of the twins falls in love with Doc Bricker.  The other can’t stand him.  Bricker being Bricker, he really doesn’t care how the twins feel about him.  He just wants to get laid.  Still, Bricker spend most of the episode very confused and very afraid of the Titanic jinx.

Meanwhile, Julie is shocked when she discovers that Buddy Stanfield (David Hedison) is on the cruise!  Buddy is a wealthy and handsome attorney and he’s also Julie’s former lover.  They had a whirlwind romance in Paris but then Julie discovered that Buddy was married and her heart was broken.  Now, Buddy claims that he’s divorced and Julie starts to fall for him again.  It’s pretty obvious that Buddy is lying but who can blame Julie when he’s played by the classy and suave David Hedison.  Hedison played Felix Leiter in Live and Let Die and License to Kill.  In between dealing with the jinx, the crew tries to proect Julie from Buddy.  Of course, Buddy’s wife eventually shows up but at least Julie has her friends to support her!

Anyway, this was a pretty predictable episode and the plot with the twins was way too silly to believed.  It didn’t help that the twins appeared to be in their early 20s while Doc Bricker is in his 40s at least.  But David Hedison was a perfect cad and Ray Bolger (who, of course, is best-remembered for playing the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz) and Harriet Nelson were an adorable couple.  This episode was nothing special but it was still enjoyable while it lasted.

Retro Television Review: Fantasy Island 1.1 “Escape” / “Cinderella Girls”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Smiles, smiles, everyone….

Episode 1.1 “Escape/Cinderalla Girls”

(Directed by Don Weis, originally aired on January 28th, 1978)

Last week, while reviewing the Fantasy Island pilot, I commented on the fact that Mr. Roarke seemed to be a bit sinister, almost as if he took delight in the idea of mortals discovering that their fantasies weren’t as wonderful as they were expecting.

In the first regular episode of Fantasy Island, it’s made clear that, while Mr. Roarke may occasionally act like he doesn’t care, it’s only to teach a lesson.

When internationally renowned stage musician Gregory Udall (Bert Convy) requests that he be allowed to perform the world’s greatest escape, Mr. Roarke doesn’t appear to be the least bit concerned when Udall is transported to Devil’s Island, the infamous French island prison.  Devil’s Island was known for being escape proof.  It was also known for being harsh even by the prison standards.  75% of the people sentenced to Devil’s Island died before their sentence ended.  When Udall reaches the island, he discovers that the Warden (Reggie Nadler, best-known for playing the vampire in Salem’s Lost) doesn’t care whether he lives or dies.  He’s also told, by another prisoner named Ipsy Dauphin (Robert Clary), that Mr. Roarke regularly abandons people at the prison!

After Udall’s first escape fails, he is visited in the island’s infirmary by Mr. Roarke himself.  Udall says that he’s ready to give up and opt out of the fantasy.  Mr. Roarke informs him that failure is not an option.  He also suggests that Udall enjoy his cigarette because….


Fear not, though, Mr. Roarke is not evil.  Instead, he’s just giving Udall the extra push that he needs to not only successfully escape from the prison but to take Ipsy with him as well.  Udall not only gets his confidence back but he also saves another human being.  Mr. Roarke may have seemed harsh but it was only to make sure that everyone got something out of the fantasy.  As well, it’s revealed that Ipsy was not actually prisoner but was instead Fantasy Island’s head chef.

Mr. Roarke is far more cheerful in the episode’s other fantasy.  Georgia Engel and Diana Canova want to know what it’s like to be wealthy so they not only get makeovers but they also get a lot of new clothes.  Of course, being wealthy also means that they’ll be expected to bid at a charity auction that is being held on Fantasy Island.  (Apparently, Fantasy Island also doubles as a resort for people who don’t have fantasies but just want to spend the weekend hanging out by the pool.)  Georgia Engel ends up running away with a prince.  Diana Canova falls in love with an idealistic doctor who is played by John Saxon.  Does the doctor care that she doesn’t actually have any money?  Fortunately, it turns out that the doctor is poor himself.  Yay!

As you may have guessed, the first episode was a strange mismash of tones.  On the one hand, you had a silly but sweet story about two friends who wanted to pretend to be rich.  On the other hand, you’ve got a harsh prison story featuring Reggie Nadler as a desiccated villain and uber-70s actor Bert Convy as a stage musician.  It really shouldn’t work but it does, largely because the idea of the island is so appealing and Ricardo Montalban seems to be having fun in the role of Mr. Roarke.  Plus, who can resist John Saxon pretending to be from Texas?

The premiere episode got Fantasy Island off to a good start!  Would that continue next week?